Ground beef is the food responsible for a mystery E. coli outbreak involving 109 cases of illness in six states, according to preliminary evidence, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday .
"Ill people in this outbreak report eating ground beef at home and in restaurants," the CDC said in its outbreak update.
No single supplier, distributor or brand has been identified as the source of the outbreak. Therefore, no recall has been issued, and the CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid ground beef at this time or that restaurants stop serving it.
Illnesses are now being reported in six states : Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Indiana.
That's one more state and 13 more illnesses since the previous update reported by the CDC on Tuesday.
As part of the investigation, 75 of those reporting illnesses have been interviewed by health investigators. Eighty-four of them reported eating ground beef in the week before their symptoms began, according to the CDC.
Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. They begin, on average, three to four days after ingesting the bacteria. Most people recover in five to seven days. The first reported symptoms from this outbreak began March 2.
Seventeen patients have been hospitalized due to their illness.
Federal, state and local health officials are continuing to investigate.
In the meantime, the CDC reminds consumers to prevent E. coli by washing hands, cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, as measured with a meat thermometer, and keeping foods that aren't cooked away from raw beef to prevent cross-contamination.